As I unpack my apartment after moving from Cambridge, MA back to downtown Manhattan, I am tempted to take a little break and share one of my favorite summer recipes of all time. Moving can be a bit of a challenge, to say the least, so I have been rewarding myself with mini-breaks after I finish a big task on my long list of things that need to get done.
Recently, I had a photo-shoot with Kitchensurfing.com and one of the recipes featured was my basil pesto sauce. I loooooove pesto and this classic basil pesto recipe is a common go-to sauce in my repertoire, especially during the summertime. We take basil very seriously in my family’s garden and we grow TONS of this delicious herb. My mother and I make batches of our favorite green sauce by the dozen and freeze it so we have pesto that was made with our homegrown basil 365 days of the year.
The extremely tender, fragrant, extra-large, dark green leaves are superb for pesto and I use it in a variety of different ways, but my favorite way is on pasta. My mother loves to twirl it with her linguine and my brother loves to scoop it up with his rigatoni. There is no wrong way to enjoy pasta with your pesto. I recently read an article on one of my favorite food sites called The Kitchn about 10 Ways to Use Pesto Beyond Pasta and pretty much all of the suggestions looked phenomenal.
Making pesto is easy and it’s a perfect sauce to impress your loved ones with, especially if you use your own basil that you’ve grown, which you can totally do by the way. Basil is simple to grow, even in my NYC apartment. Plus, the smell of the fragrant leaves alone makes it worth having a pot of the good stuff collecting sunlight on your windowsill. Basically, in order to make pesto, all you need to do is put basil leaves in the food processor along with well-toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan, veganaise, cream cheese, garlic, salt and olive oil and and give it a whirl.
I recently traveled to the enchanting Cinque Terre, five coastal islands located on the Italian Riviera, which is known as the home to the best pesto in the world. Clearly, I had to do my research. I ate heavenly helpings of pesto in all forms at every meal and it was so delicious every. single. time. The whole experience got me really inspired to make some pesto when I got home not just for my pasta—even in my eggs! What is your favorite way to enjoy pesto? Leave your comments below and please enjoy this recipe!
- 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (try to remove as many of the stems as possible)
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 cup parsley
- 2½ TBS
- 2 TBS cream cheese
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Combine the basil, garlic, parsley, pine nuts, cream cheese, and Veganaise in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add ½ cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
- If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Thaw and stir in cheese.